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ELLSWORTH — The Hancock County Jail’s fire detection monitor is outdated and needs to be replaced.

A broken bunk in one of the cells needs to be reinforced with steel.

Those are two problems the Hancock County Commissioners learned about during the board’s annual tour of the jail Tuesday.

“It’s started to become an aging building and it needs repairs,” said Sheriff Scott Kane. “The question is where’s the money going to come from? There’s no answer.”

There’s no ready pot of money to repair small problems before they become bigger problems.

“We’ve always been reactive instead of proactive,” said Jail Administrator Timothy Richardson.

Commissioner Bill Clark, who served as county sheriff for 34 years, said “a lot of that’s the Board of Corrections’ fault. They paid for jail operations but not for any maintenance because we own it.”

County Facilities Director Dennis Walls said there is no technical support for the fire protection and alert system at the jail. The system needs to be replaced entirely at a cost of $20,000. A replacement system will be “state-of-the-art,” Walls said.

The plan for the broken bunk, which was damaged by an inmate, is to weld the break and then weld the bunk to a steel plate, according to Walls.

Assistant Jail Administrator Frank Shepard told County Administrator Scott Adkins that the jail administration would like to weld steel plates in the bathrooms because bathroom pipes can be used as a weapon.

The former sheriff pointed to exterior windows in need of washing.

“That’s something we identified during construction,” Clark said. “Those windows have never been washed from the outside in 18 years.”

Richardson also showed the board improvements, which include additional lockers for inmates’ personal items and new uniforms for inmates. The Hancock County Jail now issues jumpsuits instead of shirts and pants.

Clark drew the board’s attention to stainless steel commercial kitchen equipment, including a serving table, which can keep food hot or cold and has been sitting unused since the jail was built 18 years ago.

A number of organizations have been contacted to see if they could use the equipment but no one has been interested.

“It doesn’t fit their needs now because it’s 20 years old,” Richardson said.

The commissioners talked with a few of the inmates before having lunch in a meeting room. Sub sandwiches, bananas, 2-percent milk and chips were on the menu.

On Tuesday, the jail had 58 inmates. Of the 58, forty were awaiting trial and 18 had already been sentenced. There were four federal prisoners being boarded at the county jail. Federal boards are source of revenue for the jail when it has room.

Reproduced courtesy The Ellsworth American ~ Written by Jennifer Osborn
Photo Credits: Jennifer Osborn

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